YA Review: Every Day

David Levithan (Will Grayson, Will Grayson) here invents a completely original and thought-provoking premise: a 16-year-old named A, neither male nor female, of undetermined race and ethnicity (though A speaks English exceptionally well and understands a couple other languages) wakes up every day in a new body. Each midnight, A's essence enters someone else.

A's motto is essentially, "Don't disrupt the life you're living in." The narrator attempts to access the person's memories to try to behave as the host body would in any given situation. A has woken up as Hugo on Gay Pride Day; as a hardworking, Spanish-speaking 16-year-old maid; and as Ashton Ashley, with a face and body that resembles Beyoncé's. A makes it clear that even a seemingly ordinary person is not ordinary. So many details make a life meaningful: "Knowledge is the only thing I take with me when I go."

But on day 5994, when readers first meet A, the narrator wakes up in the body of Justin and falls in love. Rhiannon, Justin's girlfriend, has qualities that A has never experienced before. It starts simply: "I want to be the one who lives up to her hopes, if only for the time I'm given." But over the next 40 days, we watch A's increasing desire to confide in Rhiannon, to share what this life of 24-hour experiences has been like, and to convince her to go on this journey together.

This is a love story of the most unusual kind--and it will make readers think about how the core of the soul never changes, no matter what body A inhabits. People respond differently to A in a body like Beyoncé's than they do to 300-pound Finn Taylor's--even Rhiannon, as open-minded as she is, admits to feeling affected by A's outer trappings. In A's pursuit of Rhiannon, A breaks the first of several rules, and this leads to an e-mail from one of A's hosts. This exchange reveals that A may not be the only one who moves from host to host. And what would it mean if A could stay in one body and could have a future with Rhiannon?

Levithan creates a voice that's poetic, philosophical and provocative. A speaks of faith, love, dreams and death with a wisdom derived from thousands of lives visited over 16 years, and firsthand proof of how much humans share rather than what sets them apart. A knows from experience that relationships require work, whether between parent and child, boyfriend and girlfriend, boyfriend and boyfriend, platonic or romantic. Ultimately, A comes to understand that love "isn't the question... but it's not the answer either.... Love can't conquer anything. It can't do anything on its own. It relies on us to do the conquering on its behalf." A's story is suspenseful and moving and surprising, and impossible to stop thinking about.--Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: In this extraordinary and moving story, a 16-year-old soul moves from human host to human host every 24 hours, and risks the possibility of a lasting love for the first time.

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